Pandora To Acquire Rdio's Assets; GroupM Encourages Staff To Stay Quiet On Rebates

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Swimming Upstream

Pandora announced plans Monday to acquire the assets of Rdio, a streaming music service that will be going through bankruptcy. BTIG Research media and tech analyst Richard Greenfield posted a blog post Tuesday morning that takes a distinctly pessimistic tone on Pandora’s prospects. Following the company’s $450M purchase of Ticketfly earlier this year, Greenfield says, “Despite Pandora’s lack of meaningful profitability and cash flow generation, [new CEO Brian McAndrews] has launched an acquisition spree that reeks of desperation to pivot the company beyond advertising.” And the market will only grow more cutthroat, as Pandora is coming more directly into competition with Spotify, Apple and Google. Full post.

Agency No Evil, Speak No Evil

Outgoing GroupM CEO Kelly Clark issued a staff memo regarding leaks around remuneration and agency rebates (aka kickbacks), a topic that dramatically seized ad tech and media-buying agencies after former Mediacom CEO Jon Mandel noted the practice in an ANA presentation. With Xaxis CEO Brian Lesser ascending to the GroupM throne, the opacity of margin generation within WPP subsidiaries will likely remain a touchy subject. Steve McClellan at MediaPost notes that Clark explicitly named two firms that may look to pry info from GroupM employees: K2 and Ebiquity (which were recently hired by the ANA to investigate agency rebates). More.

A New Kind Of Strategic Buyer

Customer acquisition startup Fluent has pursued a strategy of buying or building an archive of digital consumer profiles. And that strategy just officially paid off, as Florida-based IDI, a data solutions provider with a background in risk management, agreed to acquire Fluent for more than $100 million. IDI Executive Chairman Michael Brauser echoes many long-established enterprise data firms when he says, “We believe the timing is right to accelerate our growth plan into the consumer marketing industry.” Read the release for more.

Snowden Says: Block Ads

In a recent interview with The Intercept, Edward Snowden said it’s every person’s civic duty to block ads. He said, “As long as service providers are serving ads with active content that require the use of JavaScript to display, that have some kind of active content like Flash embedded in it, anything that can be a vector for attack in your web browser you should be actively trying to block these. Because if the service provider is not working to protect the sanctity of the relationship between reader and publisher, you have not just a right but a duty to take every effort to protect yourself in response.” Read it. Mashable picked up the soundbite and ran with it. Read that.

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